-My Streaming Essentials: My Top 10 Must-Sees on Each Platform

AM/PM’s slogan is “too much good stuff,” but that would make a much more appropriate commentary for the state of streaming services right now, as there are now nine major platforms offering a wide variety of content, an often-overwhelming challenge for the average viewer who just wants to find something good to watch.

During the last year, I was asked for viewing recommendations by nearly every friend and family member, and I found, as I gleefully recommended shows like The Queen’s Gambit, Ted Lasso, The White Lotus, Hacks and more, that not only was the casual viewer often not aware of the top titles that those of us “in the know” (i.e. obsessively covering the industry on a daily basis) were aware of, but they had little idea of the deep and rich catalog of offerings each of these services boasted.

So, in an attempt to just skim the surface (and this is, truly, just a taste), I offer my Top 10 shows and movies that are currently available* from each of the nine major streaming services that I consider to be must-sees. I dug deep and looked at the entire depth and breadth of offerings, finding the ten true gems that provide a good sense of the entirety of what that service has to offer, and to, hopefully, give you a sense of which services are not only worth your hard-earned money, but worth your time.

My personal Top 10 from each major streaming service, in alphabetical order:

S = series

F = full-length film

Apple TV+

Cost: $4.99/month

Apple joined the streaming party late, but had the (mis)fortune of perfect timing when their show Ted Lasso happened to drop just in time for the world to be on lockdown. Ted Lasso was the perfect salve for an anxious world, and became a huge hit (deservedly so). Other than Ted Lasso, though, it’s pretty slim pickings, content-wise, since Apple TV+ is committed to only featuring their own original content (for now). Without a deep catalog from another source or studio, it will take some time to build up the quantity, but with the focus on quality that Apple seems to be making, maybe less is more.

My Top Ten:

Ted Lasso (S)
Wolfwalkers (F)
The Morning Show (S)
Physical (S)
Boys State (F)
On the Rocks (F)
Tehran (S)
Greyhound (F)


Cost: $7.99/month

Bundle with Hulu available

The Walt Disney brand is alive and well on its streaming service, as the vast majority of content is family fare, gleaned from their decades of producing the best G-rated television and movies in the business—and they are all here. For the adults, the Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic brands are a draw, but, for me, it’s the classic Disney shows and movies from my childhood that had me hooked from hello.

My Top 10:

Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (F)
The Mandalorian (S)
Cruella (F)
The Rescuers (F)
The Shaggy D.A. (F)
One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961)(F)
The Nightmare Before Christmas (F)
Monsters, Inc. (F)
Mrs. Doubtfire (F)


Cost: $9.99/month with ads; $14.99/month without ads

Netflix may have the most content, but HBO MAX has the best. Although Netflix did get a head start in the streaming business, HBO MAX had been in the business of quality television already for decades, having literally invented “prestige TV.” Add to that the massive and impressive catalog of Warner Bros film titles also available on the service and it’s hard to deny HBO MAX is the streaming king. How much quality content is there? So much that my top 10 list is made up of just original HBO series, and the number of great shows HBO has churned out over the years is so strong, Game of Thrones and The Sopranos didn’t even make the cut.

My Top 10:

Hacks (S)
Band of Brothers (S)
Curb Your Enthusiasm (S)
Enlightened (S)
The Leftovers (S)
Oz (S)
Sex and the City (S)
Silicon Valley (S)
Succession (S)


Cost: $6.99/month with ads; $12.99/month with no ads

Bundle with Disney+ available

Once just a place for old sitcoms, Hulu’s catalog was impressively bolstered by its acquisition by Disney, and Disney’s subsequent acquisition of Twentieth Century Fox. Hulu offers Disney a more adult-centered platform in which to showcase formerly Fox films and shows, which makes Hulu a nice companion to Disney+ (I highly recommend bundling both for less). Don’t get me wrong, Hulu was doing ok on its own before Disney, with The Handmaid’s Tale making a subscription worth it on its own, but the level of content now makes Hulu the best deal in streaming services, with a ton of varied content, much more than just Disney and Fox titles.

My Top 10:

Palm Springs (F)
What We Do in the Shadows (S)
The Handmaid’s Tale (S)
Parasite (F)
Fosse/Verdon (S)
Fargo (S)
Hell or High Water (F)
Portrait of a Lady on Fire (F)
Twin Peaks (S)
Killing Eve


Cost: $8.99 – $17.99/month, depending on plan

The giant continues to roar, churning out content like there is a pandemic every year (let’s hope not). There is so much on Netflix, it is, quite frankly, overwhelming. Add to it all the international and foreign-language fare that’s available, and it is staggering. But, if you are dedicated to your search, you will find there is truly something for everyone.

My Top 10:

Black Mirror (S)
After Life (S)
Ozark (S)
The Crown (S)
Russian Doll (S)
The I.T. Crowd (S)
The Great British Baking Show (S)
Hannah Gadsby: Nanette (F)
Da 5 Bloods (F)
The Half of It


Cost: $4.99/month with ads; $9.99/month without ads

Bundle with SHOWTIME available

The latest entry in the streaming wars features a catalog from Paramount Studios and CBS, which sounds more impressive than it is. Sadly, the content leaves much to be desired, but there are still a few gems worth seeking out and the promise of more to come.

My Top 10:

Skyfall (F)
Reno 911! (S)
Inside Amy Schumer (S)
The Good Wife (S)
Almost Famous (F)
Bound (F)
Cinema Paradiso (F)
The Last of the Mohicans (F)
She’s Having a Baby (F)
The Untouchables


Cost: FREE with ads (limited selection) or $4.99/month for Peacock Premium

As soon as CBS had their dedicated streaming service (and ABC tied in with Disney), you knew NBC had to get in on the act. Peacock, currently featuring past NBC shows and a few films, will boast the entire Universal Studios film catalog come next year, which should help attract more viewers. Until then, it’s pretty much “Must-See TV” from the ‘90s and earlier, with a few big movies sprinkled in. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing…

My Top 10:

Law & Order (S)
Cheers (S)
Parks and Recreation (S)
Friday Night Lights (S)
30 Rock (S)
The Rockford Files (S)
Saturday Night Live (S)
The Big Lebowski (F)
Casino (F)
Cast Away

Prime Video

Cost: Included with Amazon Prime membership ($13/month) or, $8.99/month as a stand-alone.

It never hurts to be tied into Amazon, and Prime Video certainly feels as if, like its online shopping parent, it literally has everything. And it pretty much does, but be warned, not everything you see is included. So, it’s best to think of Prime as your digital movie rental shop (for those of us who remember such places), where you can find almost anything, but you might need to pay for it. BUT, Prime has an impressive list of free-to-subscribers television series and films that are as good as anything you can find anywhere else, original content and a slew of ever-rotating titles to serve any mood. Membership does have its perks.

My Top 10:

Fleabag (S)
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (S)
The Last Black Man in San Francisco (F)
Take Shelter (F)
The Americans (S)
The Social Network (F)
In Bruges (F)
Midsommer (F)
(500) Days of Summer (F)
Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace


Cost: $10.99/month

SHOWTIME has always lived in HBO’s shadow, and streaming has made that shadow all that much longer. But, as one of the original pay cable channels, SHOWTIME still has some cache and flaunts its brand-name status with some impressive high-quality content. Their bench may not be as deep as their HBO MAX rival, but it doesn’t mean their starting lineup can’t hit–especially as it features the best thing I’ve ever seen on television (see #1).

My Top 10:

Twin Peaks: The Return (S)
Locke (F)
Nightcrawler (F)
Homeland (S)
Escape at Dannemora (S)
Glengarry Glen Ross (F)
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (F)
First Cow (F)
Ex Machina (F)
Boogie Nights

*NOTE: Costs and title availability on certain services are subject to change.

Originally published on AwardsWatch.com.